Visit a Nursing Home {teaching kids to serve}

One day when I was in 8th grade, I was sitting in my English class discussing a story about a family who had abandoned their elderly grandfather. The conversation came around to the lack of respect in contemporary America for the elderly.

For some reason this conversation bothered me deeply. I kept thinking of old people abandoned and ignored by their families. I was so upset I decided to start visit nursing homes.

With my mom's help, I connected with the activities manager of one of our local nursing homes. She introduced me to several elderly ladies who did not receive visitors, and I began going to see them every week.

After a while I got in touch with the animal shelter, who allowed me to pick up a kitten or puppy once a month or so to bring it along. Oh how the residents loved this!

Young people, young animals... they bring joy into a nursing home that is palpable. Many residents are old in body but young in mind, and they feel free to let down their guard and enjoy themselves when they have youth nearby.

Before you go to a nursing home, let your children know what they might expect. Explain that most of the people who live in a nursing home have bodies that aren't working as well as they used to, so they need some help. You can also tell them that some of them have a sickness that has made their thinking a little different.

When you are there, it is important that you help your child balance discomfort with serving. Don't push your child to reach out, but encourage him to. You may have a child who feels quite awkward and overwhelmed. Be engaged with the residents yourself and set a good example. Over time your child's reluctance will wear off.

There are many things you can have your children do while visiting:

  • play an instrument
  • sing
  • read aloud
  • play board games or cards with the residents
  • make crafts with the residents
  • hand out cards or decorations

But really all they need to do is be themselves. Just taking time to talk and ask questions can make someone's day!

photo credit


  1. Fabulous! I remember going as a kid, I took my kids when they were young, and now my mother is in a nursing home. Nothing lights up a face like a child. Absolutely nothing. Your heart is reflective of your Father's, Patti. Thanks for this, Joyce

    1. I agree, Joyce, and that light in their faces is a joy to behold. Thank you for your sweet words.

  2. I love this idea too, Patti! I'm helping to organize some kids from my boys' elementary school to join the residents at the nursing home where I work for coffee hour this Saturday. All of the kids in the school have colored pictures and written notes (more than 400!) to take for all of the residents. It is so sweet to watch the love and care the kids are putting into this so far.

    1. I hope it went well! Do you have other suggestions for ways kids can bless and interact with nursing home residents? I imagine you have seen many scenarios!

    2. What a blessing it was to encourage and watch the kids interact with the residents! Since it was a large group, the kids walked around and helped hand out coffee and doughnuts to the residents. And they colored together and worked on some word/trivia puzzles together. One-on-one I have seen kids working with residents to make fleece tie blankets together (they would bring it in all cut out and just tie together, then give it to the resident as a gift). Working on puzzles is fun for lots of residents. Bringing a resident outside is a big one too (although you might need an adult/older children to help and permission from the staff). Oh, and my favorite thing to do with my Grandma when she was at the nursing home was to bring Christmas cards and all the supplies and write out/address her cards for her and have her sign her name -- slightly older kids could help with that. She loved it as it was the only way for her to keep in touch with her friends and I loved hearing the stories of her friends.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...